SONOMA — Kevin Harvick swept the weekend in Wine Country.
The 41-year-old Bakersfield native won the 64-lap Carneros 200 K&N Pro Series West race on Saturday, then turned around on Sunday and won the big boy — the 110-lap NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350.
Sunday’s victory was Harvick’s first cup series win this year and his first in 17 races at Sonoma.
“We definitely checked the most important one off and that’s the cup series,” he said. “You gotta cherish the weekends when they’re like this because they don’t always go as smooth as this.”
Clint Bowyer came in second, posting his ninth top 10 finish in 12 races here and his sixth top 10 finish this year.
Harvick and Bowyer are both Stewart-Haas Racing drivers, marking the third time in the past six years the Kannapolis, North Carolina, team has finished one-two in the Monster Energy Cup series. The team finished 1-2 at the April 2015 Richmond race and in New Hampshire in July 2011.
Brad Keselowski, who led for 17 laps, finished third, notching his second top 10 finish in eight races in Sonoma.
Stewart-Haas’ co-owner Tony Stewart, who as a driver last year celebrated a thrilling victory by overtaking Denny Hamlin on the final lap, said this team victory is even more satisfying.
“I look to be here every time,” he said of victory lane, as a driver or owner.
All four of the team’s cars Sunday had potential to finish in the top 10 at one point, including Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch.
“That’s more impressive than a single victory,” Stewart said.
Patrick, who started sixth and finished 10th, was involved in two wrecks that banged up her car and cost her time.
“If she didn’t have bad luck, she wouldn’t have any luck at all,” Stewart quipped. “She just kept digging.”
A twist this year at Sonoma is NASCAR’s new three-stage format, which awards series points not just for the final result but for the top 10 finishers of two additional stages during race.
The format essentially creates mini-races within the main race and forces strategic decisions on whether to pit and fuel with an eye toward stage wins or to concentrate on the overall win. Sonoma’s stages ended at lap 25, 50 and with the checkered flag.
“You look at it every which way,” said Rodney Childers, Harvick’s crew chief. “When should we pit? When should we not? Do we go after the playoff points in the first stage or do we not? When you have a fast car it fixes a lot of problems.”
Harvick said they chose essentially to play the long game and not chase stage points at the risk of needing fuel or new tires late in the race.
“We try to put ourselves in a position to win,” he said. “The stage points are good. … But we gave up those points to try to put us in position. Then when 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) fell out, I felt like we were in control of the race.
“It’s fun to have it all go right, have the right car and right strategy and pull into victory lane.”